As to a chair, or anything of that kind for helping Mrs. Peerybingle into the cart, you know very little of John, if you think THAT was necessary. Before you could have seen him lift her from the ground, there she was in her place, fresh and rosy, saying, 'John! How CAN you! Think of Tilly!'
If I might be allowed to mention a young lady's legs, on any terms, I would observe of Miss Slowboy's that there was a fatality about them which rendered them singularly liable to be grazed; and that she never effected the smallest ascent or descent, without recording the circumstance upon them with a notch, as Robinson Crusoe marked the days upon his wooden calendar. But as this might be considered ungenteel, I'll think of it.
'John? You've got the Basket with the Veal and Ham-Pie and things, and the bottles of Beer?' said Dot. 'If you haven't, you must turn round again, this very minute.'
'You're a nice little article,' returned the Carrier, 'to be talking about turning round, after keeping me a full quarter of an hour behind my time.'
'I am sorry for it, John,' said Dot in a great bustle, 'but I really could not think of going to Bertha's--I would not do it, John, on any account--without the Veal and Ham-Pie and things, and the bottles of Beer. Way!'
This monosyllable was addressed to the horse, who didn't mind it at all.
'Oh DO way, John!' said Mrs. Peerybingle. 'Please!'
'It'll be time enough to do that,' returned John, 'when I begin to leave things behind me. The basket's here, safe enough.'
'What a hard-hearted monster you must be, John, not to have said so, at once, and save me such a turn! I declared I wouldn't go to Bertha's without the Veal and Ham-Pie and things, and the bottles of Beer, for any money. Regularly once a fortnight ever since we have been married, John, have we made our little Pic-Nic there. If anything was to go wrong with it, I should almost think we were never to be lucky again.'
'It was a kind thought in the first instance,' said the Carrier: 'and I honour you for it, little woman.'
'My dear John,' replied Dot, turning very red, 'don't talk about honouring ME. Good Gracious!'
'By the bye--' observed the Carrier. 'That old gentleman--'
Again so visibly, and instantly embarrassed!
'He's an odd fish,' said the Carrier, looking straight along the road before them. 'I can't make him out. I don't believe there's any harm in him.'
'None at all. I'm--I'm sure there's none at all.'
'Yes,' said the Carrier, with his eyes attracted to her face by the great earnestness of her manner. 'I am glad you feel so certain of it, because it's a confirmation to me. It's curious that he should have taken it into his head to ask leave to go on lodging with us; an't it? Things come about so strangely.'
'So very strangely,' she rejoined in a low voice, scarcely audible.
'However, he's a good-natured old gentleman,' said John, 'and pays as a gentleman, and I think his word is to be relied upon, like a gentleman's. I had quite a long talk with him this morning: he can hear me better already, he says, as he gets more used to my voice. He told me a great deal about himself, and I told him a great deal about myself, and a rare lot of questions he asked me. I gave him information about my having two beats, you know, in my business; one day to the right from our house and back again; another day to the left from our house and back again (for he's a stranger and don't know the names of places about here); and he seemed quite pleased. "Why, then I shall be returning home to- night your way," he says, "when I thought you'd be coming in an exactly opposite direction. That's capital! I may trouble you for another lift perhaps, but I'll engage not to fall so sound asleep again." He WAS sound asleep, sure-ly!--Dot! what are you thinking of?'
'Thinking of, John? I--I was listening to you.'
'O! That's all right!' said the honest Carrier. 'I was afraid, from the look of your face, that I had gone rambling on so long, as to set you thinking about something else.